Intelligence Squared Debate
For this project, we decided to debate controversial topics in real oxford-style debates. First, we read quick informative works on each of four topics, then we listed each topic in order of favorite to least favorite. Using these lists, our teacher picked our groups , four students per class per topic. The topics were as follows, NSA electronic surveillance, drone strikes in the Middle East, refugees entering the U.S, and U.S. “advanced interrogation.” I was assigned to NSA surveillance. Following this, in our groups we worked on deciding whether to oppose or support the topic. I chose to support NSA mass surveillance. Following this, we made arguments for our topic and then after consulting to other arguments we made rebuttals for their arguments. Our final product for this project was a live in class debate for each topic. I was not present for these debates, but instead I found evidence to support my team's arguments as well as their rebuttals. Following these debates, one or two were chosen to be displayed in our all-school exhibition on May 11th.
This project taught me a lot about topics that are very serious that I really hadn't given any attention in the past. I found it very interesting to learn about the controversial operations going on throughout the world and their global effects. It was really eye-opening for me personally to deeply investigate the topic of NSA surveillance and its legality as well as its morality. From just listening to the other topics present, I have already made my own opinions on them, and these opinions have vastly changed my opinions concerning mass surveillance on U.S. citizens, terrorism, U.S. policy worldwide, and the Middle East. I now realize that the drone program is deeply flawed, and as well I realized that U.S. policy has major issues and caused serious problems around the world that need to be solved. While I do feel this way, I still believe that the NSA electronic surveillance program is just, and therefore I believe it should continue to exist unchanged. This project was also very interesting as I looked at the Constitution as well as the Patriot Act and saw how they could conflict and overrule each other which I hadn't [previously realized was possible.
I developed strong argumentative skills during this project even though I did not have to directly create an argument for our debates. I was able to do this by having to create arguments and support them with evidence which helped my argumentative skills because I had to make my argument concise while still giving it enough evidence to actually support it. My growth in persuasive speaking was not as vast but it was still pronounced. While actually speaking would have been very helpful for my persuasive skills, trying to create strong arguments and help my partner Corry were very helpful in refining my word choice and paragraph layout to make my work much more persuasive in the future. Some specific argumentative skills that I feel I expanded during this project were being clear and concise, as well as having my argument be very strong while still making sense and flowing well with the rest of my evidence and analysis.